Learn From the Leaving: Why Your Lost Employees Are Your Most Valuable

Many companies think recruitment is all about who you bring on staff. But that is not the case. Often recruitment is about who you KEEP on staff. You can hire all of the best and the brightest, but if you’re not retaining them then their value doesn’t help you in the long term.

When it comes to figuring out how to best determine what will help employees stay, you won’t get the best answers from your current employees. They have an incentive not to be completely honest, since they don’t want to hurt anyone – and may not even know what their needs are, other than money. Instead, you need to ask those that are in the best position to be honest about what would make your company better. For that, you have to look at those that are leaving – or have left – your company.

Employee Exit Research

You can learn far more from those leaving your company that you can from those currently employed. Those leaving the company have all of the features that you need in order to gain real insight into you and your office:

  • They Are Your Target Demographic – You are trying to determine what will keep people within your company. Your target demographic is the people that have decided you’re not worth working for anymore. The people that have exited or are in the process of exiting your business. It’s very hard to find that specific a demographic and learn from them, but that’s what you can do with the employees that have left.
  • They Have Less to Lose – There are certainly difficulties in getting anyone to be honest, even those that have left the company. But you are far more likely to get honesty from those that are leaving than from those that still need to work for you and don’t want to ruffle any feathers. That’s honesty that can help you with your decision making process.
  • They Want to Share – Rarely does someone leave a company and have no desire to say something to their old employer honestly. They may not want the fallout, which is why they don’t leave with a giant note about everything you did wrong. But they likely have things they want to say, and so asking them gives them that outlet they wanted.

It’s clear that you can learn a great deal from those that leave the company, and the larger your company the more valuable that data is.

How to Gather Data On Lost Employees

If you ask those former employees why they left, what you have is a lot of actionable data – genuine, real answers that aren’t existential – these are the actual reasons that they left, which you can then use to learn more about how you can build your business to reduce turnover in the future.

So whether you use surveys or exit interviews, it’s a good idea research the employees that leave, as they may be the most valuable feedback that you receive.

However, you still need to make sure you’re going about it the right way. You cannot simply ask them why they left, because if you do it wrong you may still not get an honest answer – after all, most people leaving the company do not want to hurt people or burn bridges. So consider the following:

  • Make it Anonymous – Have a third party conduct the data collection or allow for an anonymous survey that won’t be checked for a pre-determined time so that people can give honest answers without it getting back to them.
  • Make it Matter – Don’t bother conducting the research if it’s not going to cause changes to your company. Over time, those leaving the company will remember that you made changes because of exit surveys, and they’ll know that their voice counts should they decide to move on.
  • Make it Worth Their Time – Find a reason to make sure they should fill out the survey, such as a paid incentive. If you can’t come up with a good incentive, then find a way to make sure that the person feels valued for their information.

The more you research these lost employees, the more you’re going to learn about what’s going on in your business that you may not know about, and what you can start doing to improve employee longevity.

Get and Keep Employees

Recruit Shop can help you get more employees, but once they’re on staff, it’s going to be up to you and your organisation to find ways to keep them. That means keeping an open mind, knowing that you don’t always know what’s going on in your workplace, and treating each and every employee that leaves the company – even if you didn’t think they were the best at their jobs – as though they have something to say, and you want to learn from it. Once you do that, you’ll find ways to help keep your employees for longer.

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